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1 A QUESTION OF UPBRINGING I am not sure why I am writing a review of this, for I feel only one hour or time period has passed out of the twelve of this Dance It is too early to say how I will feel as I am dragged along and try to keep my steps in measure The Dance cannot be evaluated yet and this first walk has not had enough time to developed into a courante either.Nothing much has happened We are at the infancy of the Dance Or may be not quite so It is youth really Public school, plus s jour en France, plus Going Up to university But there is already a plethora of characters that will soon make me hold on to the barre and find support with Invitation To The Dance if I want to keep my reading muscles flexible.What is most extraordinary to me is how strongly I feel the pull when I do not know yet the direction, as if my reading were done in the dark with a series of glowworms as speckles of enigmas paving the path for my feet and eyes to follow and pursue.Premonitions of things to come and the Dance continues with the beat of those textual riddles. The first sentence of your Goodreads review must not ever pretend to be a newsflash The book that you pretend to be illuminating will usually be either 1 too old to require your late blooming insights or else 2 too new to be obscure, because the atmosphere of publicity which surrounds all new books these days will have beaten you to the punch by a mile or When we click on a book link on this website, or when we look up a title in a search, our main purpose is never to find out the plot Wiki for that , nor is it our goal to read your slipshod bio of the author for that Give us something fresh about the book, or just give it the stars it deserves As a humble contribution to what Robert Conquest has described as the UFABS United Front Against Bullshit , this review is an attempt to get us moving in the right direction, toward reviews that are something than disjointed or what s worse redundant parrot squawks masquerading as erudition.Up until now, the reviews of this book have followed one or both of the distressing patterns referenced above Now we didn t even need one Goodreads member to note that this is the first of a 12 volume sequence So why do all of the reviewers state this incessantly I mean why do they do that anyway I mean why Eh Nowhere would an attempt to appreciate a book merely in terms of its plot be less appropriate than in the case of A Question of Upbringing I loved the book Anthony Powell writes beautifully The narrator Jenkins who oversees all 12 novels is barely there, and because his experiences are almost always related indirectly through his dialogue with others, it is entirely possible to read the whole novel without much thinking of him as one of the main characters However, his presence is also just palpable enough to be sympathetic This approach could have easily lurched into a kind of pseudo third person omniscience, but it never does Another danger would have been for the book to go stream of consciousness on us But Powell avoids both of these traps through his light but expert management of the details of Jenkins private emotions Jenkins never overstates his grasp of the events he is witnessing And when Jenkins speaks to another character, Powell has the uncanny knack of seeming to take the words right out of the minds of his readers and to put them in the mouth of Jenkins Jenkins speaks for us, and he does so with enormous credibility.In a book that is built so tightly and minutely upon such an introspective character, it would have been easy for Powell to lose control of the story, and tempting for him to go slipping and tripping into the slough of solipsism that so often characterizes Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison and many other writers who love to stay inside the minds of their protagonists Instead of all that, Powell gives Jenkins a voice that is strengthened by the authority of looking backward many years when he s addressing the reader , as well as the refreshing sincerity of the ing nue when he s addressing his friends and acquaintances Jenkins nostalgic descriptions of school, of the summer in France and of the visits to the homes of schoolmates are registered so well that they could easily have crowded out the details of the characters moving through them But Powell reminds the reader occasionally, and gently, that Jenkins actually knew and interacted with the characters around him, while he was mainly standing to the side and observing shrewdly Powell weaves the two moods of Jenkins in dialogue and in a sort of diary mode so nimbly that one grows to love the hero without his ever really doing anything notable in the book It s not at all surprising, then, that I identify so completely and happily with Jenkins myself. What did I expect when I start reading Anthony Powell s A Question of Upbringing I might have expected a historical fiction, a memoir or even the beginning of an epic story that would capture my attention mercilessly What I did find was a coming of age story with a beautiful and flowing narration that concentrates on relationships and personalities but with no marked plot There is no tension, nothing to be solved and therefore no resolution Was the lack of a plot that failed to attract me No, I don t think that was it I have loved reading many books that lack it I did keep expecting, it s true, some major event to give a point to the book but it failed to come Isn t life like that most of the time Nevertheless, thinking it over, my lack of enthusiasm I imagine was due to the fact that I could not relate to Powell s characters and could not identify with them.In this first installment of The Dance to the Music of Time we are introduced to Nick Jenkins, Charles Stringham, Peter Templer, and Kenneth Widmerpool These four young men, schoolmates in public school and later Oxford, will changes as the Powell moves on in time Despite feeling basically let down, I enjoyed Powell s prose From the opening we can envisage the quality of his writingThe image of Time brought thoughts of mortality of human beings, facing outward like the Seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure stepping slowly, methodically, sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognizable shape or breaking into seemingly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once giving pattern to the spectacle unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance When telling us about his characters school years,Emotional intensity seemed to meet and mingle with an air of indifference, even of cruelty within these ancient walls Youth and Time here had made, as it were, some compromise We start to recognize how Jenkins considers his friendsAs I came gradually to know them better, I saw that, in reality, Stringham and Templer provided, in their respective methods of approaching life, patterns of two very distinguishable forms of existence, each of which deserved consideration in the light of its own special peculiarities both, at the same time, demanding adjustment of a scale of values that was slowly taking coherent shape so far as my own canons of behaviour were concerned What I especially sensed is how the narrator Jenkins seems to be maturing in front of our eyes, although at times he comes through as exceedingly naive This certainly is to be expected When he is contemplating his relationships to his friendsClearly some complicated process of sorting out was in progress among those who surrounded me though only years later did I become aware how early such voluntary segregations begin to develop and of how they continue throughout life When Jerkins is sojourning in France, where he meets Widmerpool, again we read how he comments on something that only later would reveal itself to him It seems Powell is preparing us for laterLater in life, I learned that many things one may require have to be weighed against one s dignity, which can be an insuperable barrier against advancement in almost any direction However, in those days, choice between dignity and unsatisfied curiosity, was less clear to me as a cruel decision that had to be made Or when facing his first romancepartly at that age I was not yet old enough to be aware of the immense rage that can be secreted in the human heart by cumulative minor irritation.That was when I began to suspect that being in love might be a complicated affair.I was, however, struck by the reflection that undoubted inconvenience was threatened if this apparently recurrent malady of the heart was to repeat itself throughout life, with the almost dizzy reiteration that had now begun to seem unavoidable The passages above are a taste of why I liked A Question of Upbringing, and the reason for my rating despite my misgivings and lack of deeper feelings for his characters Powell s beautiful prose makes reading it a very enjoyable experience Now to the second volume of his A Dance to the Music of Time, hoping that as his characters mature I will enjoy it better. well of course not everyone is going to get it the point is very subtle and grows on you slowly as you progress through it needless to say nothing much happens until book three or maybe four but you realize after a while that the very absence of action is what makes it so interesting and incidents which at the time seem unimaginably dull turn out later on to have their precisely measured place in the story the sequence when Widmerpool gets the sugar poured on his head which is later referred to on several occasions each time with a new perspective so that you see it s a defining moment for the whole series and the failed attempt to put a chamber pot in the hat box the unbearable poignancy when it is mentioned in volume twelve but you have to read the whole thing obviously twice is better so criticisms like this are just beside the point you might as well say that Proust is no than a lot of long sentences about French poofs being invited to posh parties continued p 94 What is this thing in my hands fiction memoir history romance It is a little of all of these, and something a thing of beauty and a joy to discover.The Dance is an ambitious project to capture the essence of an epoch through a detailed character study and a mapping out of the relationships between actors The Dance is also a project that uses the conventions of classical music in order to tell its story there is a prelude, recurring themes, movements and changes of tempo and of soloists Arhitecture and poetry are weaving around each other in carefully designed structures and metaphorical, allegorical images I was hooked right from the start, from the prelude that references Poussin s famous paintingFor some reason, the sight of snow descending on fire always makes me think of the ancient world legionaries in sheepskin warming themselves at a brazier mountain altars where offerings glow between wintry pillars centaurs with torches cantering beside a frozen sea scattered, uncoordinated shapes from a fabulous past, infinitely removed from life and yet bringing with them memories of things real and imagined.These classical projections, and something in the physical attitudes of the men themselves as they turned from the fire, suddenly suggested Poussin s scene in which the Seasons, hand in hand and facing outward, tread in rhythm to the notes of the lyre that the winged and naked greybeard plays The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality of human beings, facing outward like the seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure stepping slowly, methodically, sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognisable shape or breaking into seemingly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once giving pattern to the spectacle unable to control the melody, unable perhaps, to control the steps of the dance The avenues of interpretation are wide open the seasons will represent the four ages of man the singer of the tune is history on the march, starting in the aftermath of one global conflagration and leading the dancers into the next one the rhythm is destiny, with the players offered only limited control over the steps.I never heard of the Dance before joining Goodreads, which means either that the novel is past its prime outdated , too artsy highbrow for popular consumption or too boring in its presentation None of these fears were confirmed in my case, although I admit it may not be everybody s favorite cup of tea A lot of readers look for adventure and excitement, for fast pacing and larger than life heroes, and this novel is focused on passive observation from the sidelines, in the person of Nick Jenkins Powell reminds me that even those usual fiction heroes have to start somewhere as regular people engaged in ordinary pursuits, waiting for the moment of crisis to either raise them up to glory or bring them down into the mud This is the reason I believe the Dance starts with young men in school, capturing the moment when conscience, critical thinking, self awarenes and temperament coalesce into the personality that the bearer will wear for the rest of his or her life A Question of Upbringing is thus the novel of youth discovering itself, the story of spring and hope mixed with confusion, a time of learning the steps and the music, a time of innocence and curiosity Powell is the conductor of the symphony, Time is the composer is this an embrace of fatalism , and the soloist narrator is Nicholas Jenkings, a college boy at Eton I am not well versed in the British educational system, but from helpful comments in the group read, I have determined that Eton is a sort of exclusive highschool for the well to do, despite being called a public school It is also a boarding school for boys only, creating an artificial, isolated environment focused on classical studies and physically demanding sports, all of which are important in relation to the Nurture vs Nature argument by repressing born tendencies and talents and rewarding conformity to the social structure, reinforcing the caste system prevalent in the British Empire at the time early 1920 s Clearly some complicated process of sorting out was in progress among those who surrounded me though only years later did I become aware how early such voluntary segregations begin to develop and of how they continue throughout life Jenkins is of necessity a blank page, a canvas for the writer to fill with slowly accumulated learning and wisdom, a mirror for the follies and peculiarities of his contemporaries It s not a new trick in the quiver of the talented storyteller, as this kind of amorphous lead character allows the reader to slip easier into the role of observer and to identify easier with the narrator The young man s investigations and revelations will mirror not only his time at Eton and beyond, but also our own personal recollections of school days, youth, first friendships and first passions.The real tour de force for me in this first volume is how well Powell can fade into the background and allow his characters to take center stage, how Jenkins and his friends act and talk their age how much autobiographical content is here , leaving the clever interpretations and the deep introspection for the reader to fill in between the lines of the novel There are hints and tips in the prologue of each of the four major movements of the first novel college, family life, France, university , guiding the reader in the right direction like the annotations on a music score andante, fortissimo, allegretto But the bulk of the novel is told from the perspective of this revolutionary generation that must reexamine the values of the past in relation to the war that just ended.One of the early declared recurring themes is presented by uncle Giles, who insist that in the world they live in talent and intelligence are less important than the people you know who is in a good position to help you, who your parents are, what school you went to, what tailor cuts your costumes In short the question of upbringing Over the course of the novel, the uniformity imposed on school grounds will be dissolved in hills and valleys of social acceptance, with rules mostly hidden but as strict as the Indian caste system Jenkins best friends at school, Charles Stringham and Peter Templer, will drift away like continents, leaving Nick stranded in the middle Casual visitors like Widmerpool or Sunny Farebrothers, who lack the vital family connections, will become the butt of cruel jokes from the in crowd, and will have to develop other avenues for success burning ambition, camouflaging colours A cricketer always makes a good impression claims Sunny as he explains why he carries his sport gear on visits to his wealthy patronsAs I came gradually to know them better, I saw that, in reality, Stringham and Templer provided, in their respective methods of approaching life, patterns of two very distinguishable forms of existence, each of which deserved consideration in the light of its own special peculiarities both, at the same time, demanding adjustment of a scale of values that was slowly taking coherent shape so far as my own canons of behaviour were concerned This contrast was in the main a matter of temperament In due course I had opportunities to recognise how much their unlikeness to each other might also be attributed to dissimilar background The vertical stratification of society becomes even evident as Jenkins moves from college to university, as he joins different circles and continues to observe and take notes of the Dance The theory that in life it is important who and not what you know is revealed in the tea salon of one of the dons, Sillery, who weaves invisible threads of influence like a hermaphrodite spider, moving the younger people around yet carefully preserving their allocated step on the ladder Stringham aristocracy and governemnt position Peter Templer wealth and commerce Sunny and Widmerpool middle class respectability Quiggin and Mark Members working class, one an intellectual prodigy, the other an artist It will be interesting later in the series to find out if my initial classification of these characters will be proven true, and which one of them will break the barriers of upbringing The author, through the voice of Jenkins, cautions me not to be too hasty in my rulings Wisdom is the power to admit that you cannot understand and judge the people in their entirety I am led to believe that the best way to approach the Dance is without any baggage of preconceived ideas or false certainties, keep my mind open and learn, together with Jenkins, both the tune of Time and the steps of the balletIt is not easy perhaps not even desirable to judge other people by a consistent standard Conduct obnoxious, even unbearable, in one person may be readily tolerated in another apparently indispensable principles of behaviour are in practice relaxed not always with impunity in the interests of those whose nature seems to demand an exceptional measure That is one of the difficulties of committing human action to paper, a perplexity that really justifies the alternations of comedy with tragedy in Shakespearian drama The gradual coming of wisdom for Nick Jenkins is not accompanied by a similar development of his emotional intelligence A product of his sexually segregated upbringing, Nick is still dancing with two left feet when he is trying to woo girls his own age, as evidenced both in the chapers describing a visit to Peter Templer s house and a sejour in France I am hoping he is a late bloomer, and that the next novels in the series will feature a smooth operator in the elegant salons of London Right now, I believe that if Jenkins would be on Facebook, he will go for It s complicated in describing his relationship statusBeing in love is a complicated matter although anyone who is prepared to pretend that love is a simple, straightforward business is always in a strong position for making conquests In general, things are apt to turn out unsatisfactorily for at least one of the parties concerned and in due course only its most determined devotees remain unwilling to admit that an intimate and affectionate relationship is not necessarily a simple one Hang in there, little tomato Your time will come As a note to my future self, I am curious if Jenkins will be snared into a liaison with an older woman, since he seems intrigued by the mothers of his friends, especially Mrs FoxeI think once can always use caviare, don t youAt the end of the first novel of the Dance, Jenkins and many of his friends are still unresolved equations, puzzles I am only too willing to explore further in their careers, in their romantic entanglements, in their artistic preoccupations Eleven volumes of the same subtle and elegant demonstration from Powell doesn t sound too bad an invitation to meThis ideal conception that one should have an aim in life had, indeed, only too often occurred to me as an unsolved question but I was still far from deciding what form my endeavours should ultimately take In saying goodbye to the school days of little responsibility and much learning, I have two final quotes that justify for me the high expectations for the rest of the series One is a stanza about artists or scholars needing to get out of the ivory towers of their imaginationsAnd then we turn unwilling feetAnd seek the world so must it be We may not linger in the heatWhere breaks the blue Sicilian sea the other is an illustration of how our first impressions about a person view spoiler Le Bas hide spoiler A Question of Upbringing is unobtrusively and agreeably grotesque Grotesque as a style is a winning weapon And Anthony Powell s profound knowledge of human psychological subtleties does the rest.The characters make their first timid steps and we get acquainted with them The school days are over and the close school friends depart on the different walks of life And their peculiar attitude towards life is already established In everyday life, the participants act their parts without consideration either for suitability of scene or for the words spoken by the rest of the cast the result is a general tendency for things to be brought to the level of farce even when the theme is serious enough.Everyone is a bit strange but some individuals are just weirder than the other human beings It takes all sorts The gates of life are wide open and the world is their oyster Description Who is Widmerpool The question that is to dog Nicholas Jenkins crystallizes as he sees the gawky figure of his schoolmate huffing through the mists on a solitary cross country run So unexceptional, unsmart even unpopular Widmerpool continues to drop in and out of Jenkins life through school, university and London in the 1920 s Opening THE MEN AT WORK at the corner of the street had made a kind of camp for themselves, where, marked out by tripods hung with red hurricane lamps, an abyss in the road led down to a network of subterranean drain pipes.A Group ReadSearching out the paintings and books mentioned was fun until the piccies, in the meantime, had been up loaded to the group read site, so that is where you can find them, just click the above link O A great introduction to the main players and an enjoyable re visit.First edition cover.Veronese s Alexander page 125 First Movement Spring5 Second Movement Summer5 Third Movement Autumn5 Fourth Movement WinterCR A Question of Upbringing 1951 A Buyer s Market 1952 The Acceptance World 1955 At Lady Molly s 1957 Casanova s Chinese Restaurant 1960 The Kindly Ones 1962 The Valley of Bones 1964 The Soldier s Art 1966 The Military Philosophers 1968 Books Do Furnish a Room 1971 Temporary Kings 1973 Hearing Secret Harmonies 1975 *DOWNLOAD EBOOK ☙ A Question of Upbringing ⇬ Best Books, A Question Of Upbringing Author Anthony Powell This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book A Question Of Upbringing, Essay By Anthony Powell Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You In this book one of Anthony Powell s 12 volume sketch of English life in the 20th century A Dance to the Music of Time 1st Movement , we are introduced to the characters Nick Jenkins, Charles Stringham, Peter Templer, and Kenneth Widmerpool And if I understand correctly, the lives of these four young men will unfold for us over the course of this vast work Their introduction, their start on this journey is inviting for the reader because they are an interesting group, varied in intellect and personality, and I look forward to traveling this literary journey with them. A Question of Upbringing is the first volume in the twelve novel, A Dance to the Music of Time In order, the books are 1 A Question of Upbringing 1951 2 A Buyer s Market 1952 3 The Acceptance World 1955 4 At Lady Molly s 1957 5 Casanova s Chinese Restaurant 1960 6 The Kindly Ones 1962 7 The Valley of Bones 1964 8 The Soldier s Art 1966 9 The Military Philosophers 1968 10 Books Do Furnish a Room 1971 11 Temporary Kings 1973 12 Hearing Secret Harmonies 1975 The books are the fictional memoirs of Nicholas Jenkins and some of his friends, family and acquaintances This first book begins in 1921 with Jenkins still at school based on Eton, which Powell attended , where he rooms with Charles Stringham and Peter Templar Also mentioned is a slightly odd character, named Widmerpool, who Jenkins meets up again later in the book, when he visits France to improve his language skills Although Widmerpool is identified as a figure of fun, Jenkins later reappraises his attitude slightly and it is demonstrated that he has both ambition and a strong will to succeed.Obviously, this first novel the first in a three book sequence linked to the seasons as Spring is very much an introduction We meet several characters, including Jenkins Uncle Giles, housemaster Le Bas, members of Stringham s and Tempar s family and are introduced to Professor Sillery a don who likes to plot and influence events way beyond the scope suggested by his university tea parties.The four young men who are the focus of this book are all very different, but the author weaves their stories effortlessly telling a tale of class, friendship and the stirrings of romance Critically acclaimed the novel was included in Time Magazine s Top 100 English language novels from 1925 2005, while the editors of Modern Library ranked the work as 43rd greatest English language novel of the twentieth century this twelve volume cycle of novels is one of the longest works of fiction in literature However, I feel it is almost impossible to read this first book and not want to read on and that is the true test of a great story.